Derek: Everyone has a story behind their ostomy bag, and this is my story...

Derek received compensation from Coloplast to provide this information. Each person’s situation is unique so your experience may not be the same.

My name is Derek. I grew up with two brothers and one sister in a small town called Glace Bay in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia by a single mother. In 2009, my family was notified by a Genetics Clinic that a mutation in a cancer susceptibility gene has been identified in one of my family members. We were then instructed to get tested to see if anyone else in the family also carried the gene. Being young and thinking we would never have to face such a battle, I decided not to get tested. Colon cancer is very common in my family, however I honestly never put much thought into what my future may look like or if I would ever be faced with such a disease.  

At the age of 20, I decided it was time to pack my bags and move to Alberta. I was young and eager to get out of my small town and start making new memories. I jumped on a plane and started my new journey. After a short time of living on my own, I was lucky to find a great paying job in the oil and gas industry running heavy machinery. I started to make good money and slowly began to build a life that I always wished for. My main goal was always to make my mother proud and be able to financially help her while building a life for myself. 

In 2013 my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon cancer and we were told that it will be a tough battle to beat. This was one of the hardest things I ever had to deal with. Being alone in Alberta was hard enough, but receiving this news made it harder for me to continue moving forward and made it very difficult to focus on my goals.

While my mother was still actively fighting cancer, I started experiencing some health issues of my own. The health issues I started to experience began with extreme weight loss. I didn’t think much of it, because I always struggled with gaining weight and keeping the weight on. After some time of dealing with the weight loss, I started noticing blood in my stool, but I continued living as if nothing was wrong. My mother was concerned and tried to get me to take time off from work, but at the time the industry was in full force and I refused to lose such a good job to something as small as losing a little bit of blood each time I used the bathroom. After discussing my issue with many close friends and family, I heard of the wide possibilities it could be, so I believed it was something as small as a hemorrhoid or using the bathroom too quickly. For several months I dealt with the weight loss and having blood in my stool.

I lost my mother in 2018, which was extremely difficult for me and the rest of the family. Shortly after her passing, I was forced to leave my job and see a doctor because the issues I was having got to the point where I could not handle the pain and discomfort anymore. I went to see a doctor at a walk-in clinic in downtown Edmonton and that is when I was immediately booked for a colonoscopy.

After waking up from the colonoscopy, I was told there was a large abnormal lump inside my rectum that the doctor believed was cancer. This was one of the scariest days of my life and I thought it was all just a bad dream. They mentioned that the lump looked to be growing for well over a year and should have been checked a lot sooner. I was then referred to the Cross Cancer Institute where I went for further testing. After going through multiple tests, it was confirmed that I had Stage 3 Rectal Cancer.

That is when my life changed drastically. I was booked to do chemotherapy treatments to shrink the tumor enough to be able to perform the surgery successfully. During my treatments I started learning more about Rectal Cancer and what I would expect. I was then told I would have to wear an ostomy bag for 6 months to a year to give my bowel time to heal from the major surgery. This was very difficult for me to accept and I did not think I would ever be able to live a normal life again.

After a successful surgery I was tumor free and I won a battle that most do not win, but I woke up in the hospital wearing a colostomy bag. Seeing the bag on my stomach for the first time was hard on me and I immediately lost all my self-confidence. During my final days in the hospital, a nurse began teaching me about my stoma and how to take care of it. After being released from the hospital and spending time at home healing, I slowly started to realize how lucky I was to beat cancer and receive this second chance at life. The ostomy bag and supplies I was sent home with was giving me nothing but issues. I started having leaks almost every other day and soon started experiencing burning and stinging pains around the stoma. This was very uncomfortable, and I was unable to do any of my regular day to day activities. I was limited on how far I could go when leaving the house and found myself doing bag changes every day. Having this issue was just making the process of adjusting to wearing the bag much harder than it already was, so I knew something had to be done sooner rather than later.

After doing some research I learned about Coloplast and seeing all the good things people reviewed about Coloplast, I decided I was going to place an order and try it out. I received my first order quickly and immediately started wearing the product. After just one day of wearing the two-piece click ostomy pouch and base plate, the difference I noticed brought me to tears. I went to bed for the first night of wearing the two-piece set being able to finally get a good night's rest without being woken up by a leak. After a very successful first day and night wearing this product, I finally felt like I was able to get back to my regular lifestyle and start doing the things I have always loved to do.

I was no longer experiencing any pain or burning around the stoma and I was able to start being active again. I felt comfortable when leaving the house for long periods of time, because I knew I was wearing a product that I could count on. Obviously getting back to work and adjusting to my ileostomy had its challenges but having a product that I could rely on was definitely a big help. Since receiving my first order from Coloplast, I have made multiple more orders and continue to try all their amazing ostomy supplies that they offer. I have introduced many people to Coloplast since switching over and have changed the lives of others who were dealing with the same issues I was first having.

It has now been a year since I had my surgery and started wearing an ostomy bag and I am happy to say I live a normal life and enjoy doing the things I have always been able to do. You must find the right product that fit your body and something you are comfortable with. My self-confidence has never been higher, and I wear my Coloplast ostomy bag with pride. I now use this bag to share my story in hopes of helping others who maybe in a similar position feel confident and comfortable in their own skin again.

At the end of the day, everyone has a story behind their ostomy bag, and this is my story...

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